N Korea agrees to first ever UN rights expert visit

Geneva: North Korea has agreed to host a UN rights expert for the first time, granting access next week to the special rapporteur on disabled people’s rights, the world body said today.

Catalina Devandas-Aguilar is scheduled to arrive in the isolated nation on Wednesday following an invitation from Pyongyang, the UN rights office said in a statement.

Her visit “will be the first ever to the country by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council,” the statement said.

The rights council has accused North Korea of committing crimes against humanity and detaining up to 120,000 people in brutal prison camps.

The North Korean regime last month boycotted a rights council session scrutinising its record, branding the body’s work a “mere political attack”.

Devandas-Aguilar said the upcoming visit marked a important chance to study the situation in the country, with a particular focus on children living with disabilities.

“My upcoming visit to DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) represents a key opportunity to learn firsthand about national realities, laws, policies and programmes concerning people with disabilities,” she said in the statement.

Pyongyang last December ratified an international convention on the rights of disabled people.

Devandas-Aguilar said she would explore the challenges and opportunities the government faced in implementing that pact.

During her six-day mission, the expert will visit Pyongyang and the South Hwanghae Province, followed by a press conference in the capital on the final day, the UN said.